Thursday January 18, 2018

Koshur language – Carrying forward Kashmiri culture

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By Harshmeet Singh

There aren’t many better examples of India’s diverse culture than its linguistic diversity. The country is home to 780 languages with over 120 of them holding the ‘official’ status. But the other side of the story is that India currently heads the list of UNESCO’s world’s languages in danger. The constitution, in its eighth schedule, lists 22 languages as the official regional languages in the country. This series of articles is an attempt to focus on these 22 languages, their pasts and present, and cherish our linguistic diversity. After discussing about Assamese and Bodo in the previous write-ups, today, we shift our focus towards the Kashmiri language or Koshur.

Popularly known as Koshur, the Kashmiri language has over 5 and a half million speakers in India, with most of them residing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The language is also spoken by over 1 lakh people in Pakistan, most of whom migrated to the country from the Kashmir valley. Kashmiri is one of the most prominent Dardic languages.

koshur table

In fact, Sir George Abraham Grierson, the Irish civil servant who conducted the Linguistic Survey of India, famously wrote, “Kashmiri is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a literature”. He also said that the Kashmiri language is “an essential preliminary to any inquiry”.

Last year, with an aim to preserve Kashmiri language and culture, the Jammu Kashmir Cultural Confederation was formed after more than 50 small organizations carrying a similar aim came together. Well known poet and the Jnanpith award winner, Prof Rehman Rahi was appointed the chief patron of the confederation while acclaimed writer Ghulam Nabi Khayal came on board as the patron.

Kashmiri was first introduced as a medium of instruction in schools in the 1950s. But it was soon banished owing to an inelegant script. As a result, like most other regional languages in the country, Kashmiri has also witnessed a steep decline in popularity over the past several decades. To arrest the decreasing popularity, the state of J&K made the language a compulsory subject in all the schools of the state till the secondary level in November 2008.

Kashmir’s modern history has been burdened by conflicts. A number of locals in the state of J&K also accuse the central Government of neglecting the state’s indigenous culture. Maybe by helping in preserving Koshur and the Kashmiri culture in the state, the Government would be able to convince them that it wishes nothing but the best for them.

 

To read more in this series –

Bodo Sahitya Sabha – Trying to revive the language

Assamese – a bright spot in Indian regional languages scene

 

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Facts about Indian Railways you can’t miss

India proudly boasts of world's largest railway network. Not only that, but the India railways itself can boast as the biggest employer in the India. 

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Facts about Indian Railways you shouldn't miss. Wikimedia Common
Facts about Indian Railways you shouldn't miss. Wikimedia Common

India proudly boasts of world’s largest railway network. Not only that, but the India railways itself can boast as the biggest employer in India.

Railways is a major part of India, not only because of its importance as a means of transportation but also because of its political and economic significance.

Here are some interesting facts about Indian Railways which might surprise you :

  • The New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express is the fastest train in India. The train runs at an average speed of 91 kmph and touches a top speed of 150 kmph on the 195 km Delhi-Agra stretch. The Nilgiri Express with an average speed of 10 kmph is said to be India’s slowest train.
Indian Railways is one of the most important and controversial transport in India. Wikimedia Commons
Indian Railways is one of the most important and controversial transports in India. Wikimedia Commons
  •  Indian Railways-owned the longest railway platform in the world at Kharagpur with a length of 2,733 feet. Now, breaking the record, Gorakhpur station has recently taken its place with a length of 4,430 feet.
  • Two historical railway elements are included in the UNESCO’ World Heritage site list – the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, and the Indian Mountain Railways.The Indian Mountain Railways includes three railways – the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, Nilgiri Mountain Railways and Kalka Shimla Railway. All three trains have been functional for some 100 years. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is famous for its classic fusion of Gothic art with Indian architecture.
Indian Railways is on UNESCO list too. Wikimedia Commons.
Indian Railways is on UNESCO list too. Wikimedia Commons.
  • The Vivek Express (Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari) travels the longest distance of 4273 km. The shortest run is taken by a few scheduled services between Nagpur and Ajni – a total of 3 kms.
  • Mathura junction has the maximum number of routes emerging from it. The 7 of them include – Broad Gauge (BG) line to Agra Cantt, BG line to Bharatpur, BG line to Alwar, BG line to Delhi, Metre Gauge (MG) line to Achnera, MG line to Vrindavan and MG line to Hathras.
  • The railways function on a high operating ratio of 94%, that is, it spends 94 paise on every rupee that it earns.
  • The mascot for Indian Railways is Bholuor Bholu the guard elephant, which was designed by National Institute of Design. It was introduced on 16th April 2002.

    Bholu - the elephant guard was revealed in 2002. Wikimedia Commons
    Bholu – the elephant guard was revealed in 2002. Wikimedia Commons
  • The oldest working Indian locomotive still in use is the Fairy Queen, which worked with a steam engine.
  • India has eight Railway Museums – in Delhi, Pune, Kanpur, Mysore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ghum, and Tiruchirappalli. The National Railway Museum in Delhi is the largest rail museum in Asia.
  • Toilets were introduced in 1909 in the lower classes of trains, after a letter by certain Okhil Babu that described the ordeal he faced due to the absence of lavatories.